Cain – the God Particle
Many of us have been following the exciting news about Higgs boson, a subatomic particle nicknamed “God particle.” Protons and neutrons have mass while photons do not. “God particle” is believed to be the particle that gives mass to matter.
I am happy that we are trying to better understand the hard things of science.
I read with interest about those who would like to insert the old science vs. religion debate into all of this. There are claims on the Internet that the God particle is a big win for science and a deathblow to religion.
I wonder how I can reconcile these claims to the fact that the Vatican supports a fully functional astronomical observatory. There are over a dozen priests, mostly Jesuits, who have degrees in astronomy and related fields from universities like Oxford, MIT, and Padua whose research covers a whole range of theories, from string theory and Big Bang, to meteorites and meteor showers.
In 1582, these religious scientists developed the Gregorian Calendar that we use today. They made the first accurate telescopic maps of the moon. In the 19th century, they were the first to recover comet Halley and pioneer the stellar spectroscopy. I find it interesting that the president of Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the mid 20th century, astrophysicist Father George Lemaitre, came up with the Big Bang theory. Father Lemaitre was a diocesan priest at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
God is not threatened by discoveries made by modern science. In fact Colossians 1:16 declares: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
With such a backdrop, I want to look at the story of Cain, Adam and Eve’s son. In Genesis 4:1-8 we read that, “Adammade love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.’ Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”
Can Cain’s existence be credited solely to the God particle? In Hebrew, Cain is spelled Qayin, which is likely a wordplay of the Hebrew word Qanah. Two meanings for Qanah are “acquire” and “to create.” Eve declared in Genesis 4:1,” With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Interestingly, her statement can also be translated, “I have created a man just as the Lord did.”
For these reasons, Cain’s name has been associated with the Hebrew phrase Qaniti, or “I created.”
Eve’s utterance at the time of Cain’s birth reminds me of the online bloggers who are using the God particle as ammunition against the existence of God. If we can create using the God particle, then God is not our Creator.
If Cain was nothing more than a result of the God particle or a result of Eve’s pursuit to create, then we are still left with a puzzling truth. Cain attacked and killed his brother. In this world, we not only create, but we also sin and murder.
For once we cannot blame sin on our environment. Cain did not live in the age of Hollywood movies or violent video games. He murdered because he was a sinner. And just like Cain, we too are sinners. Even with the discovery of the God particle and all it might mean for someone who is antagonistic towards the idea of God, it still does not provide a solution to the problem of evil.
I would rather struggle with Cain killing Abel then us killing God. Personally, outside of the Biblical account of creation, Jesus, and his death on the cross, I can find no better explanation for sin and its forgiveness. Science can progress and make a thousand more discoveries, but in the end, I believe it will only complement rather than diminish my understanding of God.